In-Person or Live Events? How to Create a Seamless Hybrid Event Experience
Hybrid events – events that both run in a physical venue with in-person attendees and simultaneously occur online – are increasingly popular. They make events far more accessible than ever before, and can be recorded for posterity (among other benefits).
However, hybrid events aren’t always easy to organise. Timings and tech can be hard to co-ordinate, resulting in frustrating delays and a less-than-seamless experience.
The last thing you want is for people to leave your event feeling like the online elements detracted from the in-person experience, or vice versa. Especially when hybrid events can actually bring the best of both worlds when deployed properly.
Here, we’ll show you how to produce the perfect, seamless hybrid event experience that will leave all attendees perfectly satisfied.
1. Pick the right technology
Think hard about what you need in order to pull this event off successfully, and which technology can best help you fulfill those needs.
For example, if you are showing off new products, it is worth investing in zoom lenses for your cameras, so that your online participants get the same vital, detailed experience of the new products as the in-person audience.
Similarly, think about how you will be organising tickets. If you are selling tickets online consider convenient online solutions such as payment links, to ensure a streamlined service for attendees to purchase tickets.
From organising to presenting and even crowd control, make sure that you thoroughly research all your tech options and pick the very best options for your
2. Figure out how to involve everyone
A common issue with hybrid events is that online participants feel ‘left out’. As such, they often get bored and switch off.
In-person audiences can interact directly with speakers, presenters etc, but online participants are separated by the computer screen and cannot directly grab attention in the same way.
So, if you are putting on an event that involves a degree of audience participation, make sure that you build in ways to ensure that everyone who wants to feels seen and heard.
For example, in a questions segment you might alternate between questions from the in-person audience and the online audience.
You could also provide in-person participants with a phone app that enables them to interact with online elements of your event. That way, everyone can share in things like quizzes and games, and perhaps chat online about event talking points.
3. Practice makes perfect
Running through your event before the big day makes sense whatever your format, but it’s especially important for hybrid events. Hybrid events have more moving parts – which means that more can go wrong!
So, as far as possible, rehearse your event in its entirety. Bring in stand ins for both your in-person and your online audience, and test that they can participate as they are supposed to.
Check that all the technology, from cameras and mics to participation platforms and more is all glitch-free and works as it should.
Familiarise yourself with the venue, including where all the light switches are, where the exits are, where the toilets and refreshment facilities are etc. Pinpoint potential bottleneck areas (for example, are people likely to crowd outside the toilets during breaks) and come up with strategies to combat this.
Make sure that all your speakers know how to use the event technology, and be sure to brief them in how to fully involve both online and in-person audience members.
The more practiced and prepared you are, the more likely it is that your event will go off without a hitch.
4. Remember that time zones differ
This one seems obvious, but you’d be amazed at how many event organisers forget about different time zones! If you are to host an event with an audience spread across the globe, it’s important to get to grips with time zones.
It is not always possible to co-ordinate your event in a way that suits everyone, in every time zone. If you are hosting a truly global event, one or two time zones are always going to miss out.
In these cases, you will have to work out a time that best suits the majority of your audience (and which – crucially – works out for your in-person audience, who may have to commute by public transport etc).
One way to figure out a suitable time is to work out where your most important audiences are located. You should already have a reasonable idea of the kind of people who are likely to attend your event – now research those people and find out what time zones they are in.
You should also consider things like work schedule and family commitments. For example, if your core audience is middle-aged professionals, you will get the best attendance if you plan your event around both working hours and childcare commitments (i.e. don’t plan your event for during the school run!)
Once you have an idea of your core audience’s time zone and commitments, you can pick a time that’s likely to be most convenient for the majority of people.
The right strategy can give your hybrid event the best of both worlds
Hybrid events are a fantastic opportunity for reaching a wide audience. People who otherwise couldn’t get to your live events – people who live far away, for example, or who have mobility issues which could prevent access – can join in online. You can also use hybrid event technology to enhance the event for both online and in-person audiences.
However, without the right planning, you could end up with a messy mishmash of in-person and online features that don’t really work for anyone.
In order to produce a seamless, flawless, engaging, and memorable hybrid event, it is very important to plan things properly.
Make sure that you pick the right technology. Build in ways for every participant to feel involved if they want to. Practice your event to ensure that everything works. Think about time zones. And generally put the work in at the planning stage.
Your hard work will pay off in an event that everyone enjoys!